Summer Adventures

Seth and I arrived home from our 3-week trip to Togo in the beginning of June to face the seemingly insurmountable tasks that awaited us:
We had accumulated nine years' worth of stuff in our marriage-- we needed to sort through all of it and get rid of most of it.
We had an old rambling farm-house-- we needed to fix it up and sell it.We had determined what our financial needs would be for our three-year overseas commitment with Samaritan's Purse-- now we needed to raise those funds.

We looked around us and felt completely overwhelmed. "What do we do?" we said. "Where do we even start?"

We decided to do the only thing we could do. We took a 3-week family road trip.

Wait, what? Why a road trip?

First, there was a wedding and family reunion in Iowa.

I have a large extended family, and as many of them are missionaries, they live all over the world. It's a pretty big deal when they decide to get together, so when I heard that my great-aunt Marabel was hosting a family reunion at her old family farm in Iowa following my cousins' wedding, of course I knew we had to go. After all, it had been 10 years or more since Seth and I had seen some of these people. He and I were only engaged then, and none of my cousins were yet married. Now most of us are married with children, and we were eager to see each other again and introduce our children to their cousins. 
Chillin' with cousins on the porch swing.
We were not disappointed. The kids had a blast with their cousins swinging on porch swing, playing with all the fun outdoor games, and chasing cats around the barnyard. We adults got to catch up with each other and listen to the amazing stories of our older relatives. God has blessed our family richly as we have remained true to our commitment to follow him. As we sang "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" before parting at the end of the reunion, I thanked God for my family and the wonderful examples he has provided through them. Being with them was a refreshing time of true communion and fellowship.
Little girl cousins adorn the porch steps with adorableness.

Next, we took a quick family vacation in Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

After the family reunion, the next thing on our agenda was our pre-field mission training with the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) in Bristol, Tennessee. However, we had a couple of extra days between the end of the reunion and the beginning of the training, so we decided to spend those days in a sort of mini vacation in the beautiful mountain country in Tennessee. Our whole family enjoyed climbing the rocks and wading in the river.
Look, Mom, a cave!

Finally, we attended nine days of mission training and orientation.

While our children played with other missionary kids under the watchful care of some wonderful childcare providers, Seth and I, along with several other medical missionaries, attended a variety of talks, classes, and exercises designed to equip us for serving overseas with Samaritan's Purse. The first four days we spent with the CMDA in Bristol, TN. The last five days were at Samaritan's Purse headquarters in the beautiful mountain country of Boone, North Carolina. We met so many great people and heard so many amazing stories. It was humbling and encouraging to hear of the work God has done already through his people, and to understand that they are now passing that torch to us. While the load of information and training was a bit overwhelming at times, overall it was a fun and encouraging experience. Seth and I are very thankful to be working with an organization that is so dedicated to serving people with the love of Jesus.
These are only a few of the families we met who are going to be
serving as medical missionaries overseas. It was such a privilege
to train alongside such a talented and dedicated group of people.

Home again, home again... Now what?

So, as you may have gathered by now, we still have to accomplish all those tasks listed in the beginning of this post, and now we only have five months left before we leave for France in
December. It may seem like our trip was just an elaborate procrastination plan (and trust me, I am a master of those), but as a family we feel it was a very important time of fellowship and learning. As we face these obstacles that we must overcome before leaving for France by the end of this year, we are encouraged by the things we learned and the stories we heard from those who have gone before us. Since coming home from our road trip, we have made some decent headway in the sorting through of our stuff, and many of the things we will not be keeping are out in our yard being sold in a giant yard-sale that we started last weekend. 
Yes, that is all our furniture, too. Eating and sleeping on the floor is... interesting.
However, there is still a lot to sort through, and a lot of work to do on the house before we can sell it. We also are still looking for the people God has called to come alongside us as monthly financial supporters when we are on the mission field. If there is one thing we learned during this trip, it is that God always guides and provides for his people, and we can trust him to do so for us as well. However, one other thing we learned is that he does so through the church, and specifically in answer to prayer. 

Friends, will you pray for us?
  • First, join us in thanks and praise that God has provided Seth with temporary work since he graduated from residency. This temporary clinic job will allow us to meet our financial needs while still here in the U.S.
  • Secondly, thank and praise him for a smooth and peaceful trip and that we were able to attend and learn from our orientation as a family.
  • Ask for patience and wisdom for us as we decide what things to keep and what things not to keep as we prepare for this overseas move.
  • Ask that we will be able to fix up the house, and that God will bring the right buyer for it.
  • Ask that God will lead the right churches and individuals into our lives who want to be a part of what we are doing in Togo financially, and thank him for all the people that he has brought alongside us already, and for all the ways he has already provided for us.
Thank you for your prayers, friends! You are all such an encouragement to us, and we thank God for your support.

If you know of any churches or individuals who would like to hear more from us about how they can be a part of God's work in Togo, either through financial support or prayer and encouragement, please put them in touch with us! We would love to meet with them and tell them about what God is doing. Remember, we only have a few months left!

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